Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com

Remembering the Kanji in 58 Days (Day 3)

Highlighted kanji have been learned.

I just finished with day 3 and am up to 172 Kanji with a very high retaining rate. I also have them all reviewed in Anki and highlighted on the Kanji Poster.

I am a bit ahead of schedule, but I am doing it on purpose. I figure I will study as many as I can in these early stages while it is fun and exciting. That way I won’t have as big of a workload as the reviews get longer.

Today I studied about 70 Kanji in about 30 minutes and then reviewed 74 cards in 11 minutes with Anki. All together less than one hour.

I look forward to your comments and hearing about your own progress.

I should mention that studying the kanji won’t teach you any Japanese words¬†or grammar along the way. It will however, teach you the basic meanings of the kanji and how to recognize and write them.


Read More

White Rabbit Press Kanji Poster and Kanji Flash Cards

A couple of weeks ago I received an e-mail from White Rabbit Press, the maker of the Kanji Poster, Kanji Flash Cards, and other Japanese learning products, asking if I would be interested in in promoting their products on Japanese Words. They offered to send a poster and some cards for review and also sent some for giveaways (more on that later).

So let’s start with the Kanji poster first.

Kanji Poster Review

To start with, it is very well packed. The poster came packaged in a tube with stuffing at each end to keep it from getting damaged.

After pulling the poster out of the tube and unrolling it, my first impression was that it was huge. It is nearly 4 feet across and almost 3 feet tall (I guess it needs to be to hold all the kanji). The poster is made of thick glossy paper so it should last. While it isn’t particularly beautiful (my wife didn’t want me to hang it in the living room), it is very functional. The kanji are easy to read and are ordered and colored according to the JLPT. The bottom of the poster contains the readings for each kanji.

Two things that I would like to see added is a sample word and the base meaning of each kanji. Though doing so would probably make the poster a bit too large. And if I had to choose a third, I would say corresponding “Remember the Kanji” numbers. I think the ideal way to use the kanji poster is to put it in a location where you will see it everyday. Then just slowly work your way down the list. I would also recommend putting a white board next to it where you can practice writing. Going through the motions of writing will help you remember.

Kanji Flash Cards

Like the poster, the cards where also well packed. No surprise there.

The cards themselves are also made of high quality material with a glossy finish. The card contains all of the information you would want to know about a kanji, the reading, the stroke order, the meaning, and the base elements. It also contains a number allowing you to match it to the kanji poster. Once again, I would prefer a “Remember the Kanji” number as well.

Now to be perfectly honest I haven’t really used flash cards much since I found out about Anki. Anki keeps track of what I am learning and shows me the right cards at the right time. However, I am in front of the computer quite often. If you are not, then flash cards are still a great option. They can be taken anywhere (I used to use flash cards everyday on the train when I was studying at Waseda University. They were a huge help.

The Conclusion

Both Products are well made and will make a strong and helpful addition to your Japanese study materials. I have been impressed enough with them that I have added them as an affiliate to Japanese Words. So, if you are thinking about purchasing, please use the link below and help support this site.

The Giveaway

I am still working on the details of the competition, but White Rabbit Press has donated some a few items (2 decks of kanji cards and 1 deck of kana cards) as the prizes. The next post will contain all the details.

Japanese Learning Products

Read More

To Learn or Not to Learn Kanji?


Without a doubt the most difficult part of learning Japanese is learning kanji. There are over 2000 kanji in the Japanese language and many of them are complex and look very similar to one another. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that each kanji can be read differently depending on the way it is used in a sentence. Because of this, learning to read and write kanji will take much more time to master than the rest of the language. So the question is should you spend the time to learn it or not?

I think this the answer really depends on your reasons for learning Japanese and how much time you plan to devote to it. If you are learning Japanese to live or work¬† there for a short time or plan to travel there for vacation, then you probably don’t need to learn more than a few very basic kanji. It’s not that learning the kanji won’t help you, but the time you will need to spend learning them won’t be worth the value you will get if you are only visiting Japan for a short time.

For those who who plan to master the Japanese language, live in Japan for more than a year, and especially for those who plan to seek work in Japan, then learning kanji is very important. It is also pretty much required for the majority of jobs in Japan. Since most writing is now done in electronic form (computers) you don’t necessarily need to be able to write them, but you do need to be able to read them. Most documents and government forms are written using kanji. If you can’t read them then you will have to depend on someone else to translate it for you. Not too mention if you can’t read kanji you will have to sign contracts for things like apartments and cell phones without knowing what they really say.

Once we learn to read and write we take these abilities as granted, but they are very important to live and function in society. Having lived in Japan now for a while I see just how important reading is. I also wish I would have spent more time studying kanji when I was I college. So if you are planning to learn kanji I recommend that you start as soon as possible and continue to study at a steady pace. It will take some time, but the benefits are well worth it. The positive side of learning kanji is that it is easier to remember Japanese words once you learn the corresponding kanji.

Read More